Besides convenience and accessibility, a lot more consideration goes into the placement of receptacles around the house.
One of such significant considerations is circuit load capacity. For a 15 amp circuit, the load capacity is relatively low but compatible with household appliances.
Concerning the appliances intended to be used on these receptacles, let us consider the number of outlets a 15 amp circuit can safely accommodate.
A maximum of eight (8) receptacles should be on a 15 amp circuit. On their own, receptacles do not draw power. Thus power consumption depends mainly on what is plugged in those outlets rather than how many outlets are connected! With this in mind, you can join as many outlets as you desire, but be careful not to overload the circuit with too many appliances!
How Many Lights And Outlets Can Be On A 15 Amp Circuit?
There are no specifications regarding the number of lights and outlets on a 15 amp circuit.
Yet, adhering to the 1.5 amp per outlet rule established above, eight (8) outlets and lights should be on a 15 amp circuit.
This corresponding load amounts to 80 percent of the entire circuit load; the NEC recommended limit for any circuit.
The number of outlets fixed on a 15 amp circuit is not the primary source of concern here. Instead, it is the kind of appliances you connect to those outlets and the power they consume that matters.
For this reason, there are no specifications on the number of outlets you can have.
Instead, determining the number of outlets connected should be guided by a careful analysis of the electrical needs around the house.
In the case of lights, you will have to consider the kind of bulbs you are to fix.
Your choice will determine how many of such lights, in addition to the required outlets, are compatible with your 15 amp circuit.
The most widely used kinds of lights in homes are;
- LEDs (Light Emitting Diode)
- CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp)
- Halogen lamps and
- Fluorescent lamps
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) consumes the highest amount of energy.
Putting this in perspective, while you can connect about 900 bulbs of 60 watts LED lights to a 15 amp circuit, only about 24 bulbs of that same wattage in a CFL would accommodate your 15 amp circuit.
So your kind of bulb dramatically influences the number of lights you can fix with your outlets.
A maximum of eight (8) lights and outlet is enough to give room for the appliances you intend to use from those outlets.
As mentioned earlier, the energy required is mainly for the instruments because the lights consume little power and the outlets themselves, none.
There are some other things you have to consider before going ahead to fix your lights and outlets on a circuit. These things include;
#1. Local Electrical Law
The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not have a law either to fix your lights and outlets on the same circuit or not.
So, it depends on you to decide whether or not to put them on the same circuit. Nevertheless, if your area of residence has a law regulating that, you are obligated to adhere to that law.
#2. Electrical Flop
By fixing your light and outlets on the same circuit, you are prone to total blackout when there is an electrical fault.
Remember, anything that affects that circuit also affects the house’s lighting system.
So, it is up to you to gamble on the possibility of such a scenario or use a separate circuit for light to prevent total darkness when an appliance overloads your circuit.
The cost of fixing a joint outlet and light is higher as the combo would require special equipment.
For instance, the wire needed for this combination is thicker and costlier, while a single installation is cheaper.
All these things need to be weighed before you conclude whether to have your lights and outlets on a single circuit or carry them out separately.
But if you choose to combine them, you can have as many lights and outlets as you desire. Just make sure you do not overload the circuit!
How Many 60 Watt Bulbs Can Be On A 15 Amp Circuit?
A 60-watt bulb will consume about 0.5 amp of electric current. So you can have as many as 24 bulbs rated 60 watts on a 15 amp circuit. Consideration is also given to the type of bulb and the type of wire used when deciding the number of bulbs to use.
The number of bulbs I recommended above aims only at utilizing 80% of the total circuit capacity, i.e., 13 amps.
This recommendation from the National Electrical Code (NEC) is put in place to check the overloading of circuits.
One benefit of this law is that you would not have to worry about your breaker tripping due to overloading.
It would be best to consider using the 15 amp circuit for the light alone or with lights and outlets.
You only have the freedom of putting as much as the number of bulbs you want when it is a single-use circuit.
You will have to reserve sufficient space for the outlets and their accompanying appliances when you are combining.
In addition, the kind of wire used also plays a massive role in determining the number of 60 watts bulbs that can be on a 15 amp circuit.
A thicker wire will draw more power than a thin wire, so you should use fewer bulbs if you work with thick cables.
This effect is highlighted even more when combining both lights and outlet circuitry.
Remember, a thin wire will not carry the current flowing in a combined circuit, so you need a thick one.
Using a thin wire will lead to an overload which could burn the wire and, in turn, cause damage to your appliances.
So, if you are using a thick wire, ensure to reduce the number of bulbs since more current is used.
How Many LED Lights Can I Put On A 15 Amp Breaker?
A LED light consumes a lower amount of energy compared to other lights. So you can put more of the LED lights on a 15 amp breaker. You can connect more than 100 LED lights on a 15 amp breaker, the exact number depending on the wattage.
Though you may not need 100 bulbs, bear in mind that you are to occupy just 80 percent of the entire circuit load.
So do not let go of this guide! Other bulbs like CFL, halogen, and fluorescent make use of enormous energy and, as such, require fewer bulbs on the circuit.
But when it comes to LEDs, you can connect as many bulbs as you feel like provided it does not exceed the total circuitry.
To determine the amount of power in watts a LED light uses, you will multiply the current in amps and the voltage in volts. Here’s how to do it;
Power (watt) = Current (amp) ×Voltage (volt)
With this formula, you can determine the number of bulbs you should place on a 15 amp breaker.
Let us take an instance of a 10 watts LED bulb and a voltage of 120 volts. The current will become;
This calculation shows that one LED bulb will consume only 0.08 amp. Therefore, to deduce the number of bulbs that you can place on a 15 amp breaker, we would divide 15 by 0.08.
The result of the division is 187.5, which means a 15 amp circuit can accommodate approximately 190 LED lights rated 10 watts.
But we ought to use only 80 percent of the circuit; thus, the division would be by 13. The result of the division will give us approximately 163.
Again, you can accommodate many more lights if you use a dedicated circuit for lights!
Should Outlets Be On A 15 Or 20 Amp Breaker?
Your choice of an amp breaker depends on the kind of appliances you use in your home and the outlets employed.
Breakers serve to prevent current flow above a set ampere (15 or 20 amps in this case), so a breaker should be compatible with the outlet used.
This means, that 15 amp outlets should be on 15 amp breakers and 20 amp outlets on 20 amp breakers!
A 15 amp circuit should be capable of running the electrical needs of a house.
However, with the growth in technology, most modern homes are now equipped with heavy and high electrical consuming devices.
This change is dominant with kitchen appliances and equipment found in the garage.
Therefore, these appliances would require their outlets to be on a 20 amp breaker.
Although some gadgets like the dishwasher are hardwired and do not need an outlet, you should still connect it to a 20 amp breaker.
So, the size of the amp breaker your outlets should be on solely depends on the kind of appliances you have.
The 15 amp breaker is good enough for standard household equipment but unsuitable for modern kitchen and garage appliances.
Use the right amp breaker for the right outlets to avoid damage to your devices and frequent tripping the breaker.
The type of appliances you have in your home will determine the number of receptacles on a 15 amp circuit.
Heavy machines would need their dedicated circuit; they will trip your breaker.
But usually, a 15 amp should be okay with eight receptacles that occupy about 80 percent of the circuitry, leaving room for power surges.